Religion inevitably splits.
— Huston Smith
A succinct and painfully accurate quote from one of our leading religious scholars…
…reminds me of this story:
While walking along a bridge at night…
…a man suddenly spies another man preparing to jump to his death.
Being a devout Christian, he believes he must have been sent to this bridge to save this man’s life…
Slowly, cautiously, he approaches the man and begins to talk.
The suicidal man tells him how his life has fallen apart. He’s lost everything—his job, his home, his family He sees no reason to go on living.
The Christian tells him how belief in Christ can conquer all misfortune.
From his perch at the edge of the bridge, the man says he’s already a Christian.
“Oh, what faith do you belong to?
“I’m a Protestant.”
“So am I. What church do you belong to?”
“I’m a Methodist.”
“Well, so am I. Which denomination do you belong to?”
“I’m with the Methodist Episcopal Church.”
“Well, that’s just amazing! So am I. But which division do you belong to? Are you part of the Methodist Episcopal Church Northern Group or the Methodist Episcopal Church Southern Group?”
The suicidal man is now ready to step down from his perch. He believes he’s found a kindred spirit. “I’m with the Northern Group,” he says happily.
The other man gives him a shove, sending him off the bridge. “Die, you Northern Heathen!”
Ironically, this story came to me via a woman of strong Christian belief…
…some might say “strident Christian belief”.
But a strident person would not have found humor in the foibles of her chosen belief system…
….nor acknowledged the potential danger of her choice.
(The woman’s source for this story was a TV comedian. The broadcast was years ago, so I don’t know his name. I like to give credit where credit is due, but this time I can’t.)
© 2014, Michael R. Patton
myth steps: the book